These photos are part of a larger 52 week project, taken in Roys Redwood Preserve near Woodacre, Marin. In this weekly project I take self portraits, shot nude outdoors. It's a fun challenge to find intriguing places that still provide privacy. It’s harder to do in the SF Bay area than you’d think.
When I go out, I make sure to bring at least one person. They act as a scout and a camera operator. I set up the shot, but have my escort hit the button on the remote. It frees me up to do whatever I'd like in the frame, not having to hide the remote within the 2 seconds I have with the timer.
I mainly shoot with my friend Kate Dollarhyde and my boyfriend Ben. Kate is a photographer friend of mine. She had gone to school for photojournalism and was getting back into shooting when we first met.
We go back to a lot of the same places, especially if they have different angles and elements to interact with. The challenge is to find new places – places private enough to let us get the shots we’re looking for. I’m looking for a spot with texture, depth, and beauty. We’ve found everything from a large abandoned boat to fallen trees that are just impossibly large.
Ben and Kate will assist me as I’m posing, checking the shot to make sure I’m not over or under exposed. They’re both good photographers and will make adjustments once we have a few test shots.
I started shooting self-portraits casually, which morphed into a 365 project. The 365 turned out to be much harder than I’d anticipated. For the second year I shifted to a 52 week project. It allowed me to not feel as restricted, with shooting everyday. I wanted to concentrate more on quality, not quantity. None of my shots from the 365 had a cohesive theme, but with this weekly project I’m exploring a central theme that will tie all the work together.
I learned something new with these big projects. Even though they’re about self portraits, they’ve made me better at asking people for help. When I started I was capturing all my shots myself. Every aspect was on me, and there was a point when shooting every day that I hit a wall in what I wanted, what I could accomplish on my own. With the added help, I can concentrate on the aspects that matter.
I’ve only been publishing outtakes of the weekly project, saving the best shots for a collected set that I’ll release as a PDF or printed book once the year is over. I’m thinking of having a gallery show, or being a part of a group show. It would be really cool to see become a reality.
I didn’t realize until a couple years ago that California has a huge wildflower season in the spring. When we went out on hikes there were just all these beautiful wildflowers everywhere I looked. It was so different than what I saw growing up on the East Coast, where most stuff are European flowers in people’s gardens. I started looking up the flowers I was finding and getting really into it. I’ve seen endangered flowers that only grow in specific spots along the California coast. It’s wild.
When I decided I wanted a leg tattoo, I made a couple huge lists of all the wildflowers, the little insects and the birds that co-exist as an ecosystem. Those flowers represent my love of living here. At this point I really can’t imagine myself anywhere else anymore. Getting to know more about what is around me and then putting myself in these photos surrounded by beauty and nature is my way of celebrating my love of California.